Don’t Write It Down, by C.E. Wilson

I have not hidden my admiration for indie author C.E. Wilson. She’s creative and prolific, and I’ve read almost everything she’s written and published in the past two or so years. And if I’ve missed something, it’s because she’s had an impressive output in that time span. One of the advantages of self-publishing is that authors determine their own book release schedule. Traditional publishing companies often restrict their authors to one book a year because of contracts, conflicts, and a whole bunch of legal reasons that I don’t fully understand. But this is already the third book of hers released this year that I’ve read.

Don’t Write It Down is Wilson’s first book in her “Rainbow Noir” series of light horror books, and it’s got a fairly solid premise. Emma Ross is a horror author with the pen name of “Shade.” She has a complicated relationship with her parents, who never took her writing goals seriously; and a complicated relationship with her husband, who drifted away while she shut herself off from everyone else to write one of her books.

But Emma’s most complicated relationship is with Jessen Blake, another horror author whose books always shoot to #1 on the best-seller lists, leaving her books at #2. Emma wants nothing more than to top the list, but every time she releases a book, so does he, which is quite curious because he’s dead. Before long, Emma is interacting with Jessen in her dreams, and he gives her a dire warning about claiming the top spot.

Knowing that Wilson is a fan of the 50s/60s TV show The Twilight Zone (as am I), I instantly recalled the classic episode “A Game of Pool” where Jack Klugman plays a pool shark who wishes he could play a match against a deceased legend played by Jonathan Winters. Both stories deal with an obsessive challenger wanting to topple their respective champion, and both stories have that champion visit from beyond the grave in some way. Both stories contain intriguing dialogue and lessons about being on top and the persistence and consequences of fame, but the two stories diverge in the development of those after-effects, and Wilson then delves into the horror.

I won’t spoil what that horror is, but like usual, I’m impressed with the idea of the horror Wilson puts forth. It didn’t frighten or startle me as much as I would have liked for a horror book, but she admits that the book is “light” horror. Maybe a little too light for me, but that’s not the primary issue I had with this book.

Unfortunately, the timeline of events in the story confused me. Emma can apparently write and publish books within a couple of weeks. Now, I know this is possible for self-published books, and maybe she has enough of a social media following that she can sell a lot of copies right away, but what about all the other aspects that go into producing a book such as editing, cover design, and marketing?  It’s clear that Emma isn’t exactly the most reliable narrator, and it’s in the story that she may be dealing with some kind of psychological disorder, so maybe the few days it supposedly takes her to complete a book is her inaccurate perception of the flow of time, but it pulled me out of the storyline too often.

I’m sure lawyers have similarly reacted to how quickly trials move in movies and TV shows, or forensic investigators reacting to crime procedural scenes. Those scenes are often sped up to serve the telling of the story. Maybe my own personal experience—and my inability to write something that quickly due to a non-writing full-time job and a lack of discipline to sit in one place and write for more than a couple hours at a time—is blocking me from believing Emma’s writing/publishing timeline. But it does, and I feel bad about it because I’ve enjoyed so much of Wilson’s writing.

Fantasy, horror, and magical realism stories require the willing suspension of disbelief, and I didn’t have a problem doing that with the supernatural elements of this story. But because I had difficulty doing so with the realistic elements, even though I enjoyed the overall premise of this story, I give it THREE STARS.

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Don’t Write It Down is available at Amazon.

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